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Take Taco Tuesday to the next level with this Vegan Carne Asada Taco Recipe! It's made with slow cooked vegan steak that's broiled for the ultimate charred flavor, then served as street tacos with simple toppings! 

Carne asada served as tacos with garnish.

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What is Carne Asada?

Carne asada, which translates to “grilled meat” in Spanish, is a popular dish in Mexican cuisine. It typically consists of marinated and grilled beef, although the specific cuts of meat and marinade ingredients can vary widely based on regional preferences and individual recipes.

The beef used for carne asada is usually thinly sliced and may come from cuts like flank steak, skirt steak, or sirloin. Instead, in this vegan version of the popular Mexican dish, we're swapping these expensive cuts of meat with wholesome, budget-friendly soy curls. 

Unlike wide-spread vegan brands like Beyond Meat or Impossible, soy curls can be difficult to find in grocery stores. Some report being able to find them at their local health food stores, but I've never seen them near me (it is not carried at Whole Foods Market!). The only brand that makes soy curls is Butler Foods and their soy curls can be easily purchased online from Amazon or their website

💲 Money saving tip! If you have the freezer space, I highly recommend purchasing the 12 pound bulk box from the Butler Foods website. Even with the shipping cost, it ends up working out to about $3 per 8 ounces instead of the almost $6 for the individually packaged 8 ounce bags (50% savings!). You can even split an order with friends if you can't store all 12 pounds yourself. 

Carne asada served as tacos with garnish.

Ingredients

  • Soy curls: The plant-based protein is the star of the show in this vegan taco recipe. Soy curls are one of my favorite whole food plant-based meat substitutes because of its convincing meaty texture. It's also made with just 1 ingredient: soy beans! Unlike jackfruit, it's actually a good source of protein and competitive nutrient wise compared to meat.  
  • Vegan beef broth: Since traditional carne asada meat is typically beef, I chose to infuse the soy curls with vegan beef broth. I’ve used both Better than Bouillon Vegetarian No Beef Base and Edward & Sons Not-Beef Bouillon Cubes and both are good. However, if needed vegetable broth is a great substitute. 
  • Oil: This vegan steak marinade is naturally oil-free, but I do recommend drizzling the cooked carne asada before broiling. This will help the exterior become nicely charred and slightly crispy. Vegetable oil, avocado oil, refined coconut oil, and olive oil will all work. You could even spray with cooking spray, if needed.  

Marinade Ingredients

  • Soy sauce: Adds essential umami flavor and saltiness to the delicious marinade. If you are gluten-free, use tamari. I wouldn't recommend coconut aminos – it is too sweet tasting and won't impart the right umami flavor in the dish! 
  • Onion + garlic: Fresh onion and garlic is essential for the most aromatic marinade.  
  • Jalapeño: Adds a bit of spice without making this vegan carne asada recipe inherently spicy. I used 1 chopped jalapeño, but please adjust to your personal taste and the spiciness of your jalapeño. 
  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds an herbaceous aroma that helps balance the flavor in the spices. I recommend using both cilantro leaves and stems for the best, fresh flavor.  
  • Orange + lime juice: Freshly squeezed citrus juice is a staple in carne asada recipes as it helps tenderize the meat (in this case soy curls!) and helps enhance the bright, tangy flavors in the marinade. For best results, freshly squeezed juice is highly recommended. Store-bought orange and lime juice will not have the same effect. 
  • Spices: You'll need a simple blend of cumin and chili powder.

How to Make Vegan Carne Asada

Vegan carne asada after broiling on a sheet pan.
  1. Rehydrate the soy curls. Place the dry soy curls in a large mixing bowl. Pour the vegan “beef” broth over the soy curls and set aside. Allow the soy curls to rehydrate and absorb the broth for about 10 minutes, or until softened. Then, once hydrated, drain the soy curls and squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible. 
  2. Combine ingredients in slow cooker. In the bowl of a 6 qt. slow cooker, combine the soy sauce, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime and orange juices, garlic, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Add in the soy curls and stir to combine. 
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Overtime, the soy curls should become a deep golden brown.
  4. Cut the soy curls into bite-sized pieces. ​Once the carne asada is fully cooked, use kitchen shears to cut the soy curls into bite-sized pieces. 
  5. Broil the carne asada. Then, using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the soy curls to a baking sheet, leaving behind the excess liquid. Drizzle the carne asada with oil, then broil for 5-6 minutes, or until crispy! Alternatively, you can sear the carne asada in a large skillet or grill pan over medium high heat until crispy!
  6. Serve. Serve immediately while warm, as desired. 
Closeup of vegan carne asada.

How to Serve Vegan Carne Asada

The first night we enjoy this vegan steak, we typically serve as carne asada tacos in our favorite flour tortillas or corn tortillas along with simple toppings like diced tomatoes or pico de gallo, sliced jalapeños, fresh cilantro and lime wedges. I'll also often serve with a sauce, such as Cilantro Sauce, Avocado Crema, or Vegan Sour Cream.

Then, for leftovers, we often serve this soy curl carne asada in a variety of ways including as tortas, grilled in vegan quesadillas with Melty Vegan Cheese, and vegan burrito bowls. It's the perfect meal prep recipe and is just as delicious as lunch leftovers as it is fresh on the first night! Don't be afraid to get creative. 

If you're looking for delicious, budget-friendly sides that pair well with this Soy Curl Carne Asada, here are a few of my favorites:

Carne asada served as tacos with garnish.

Expert Tips & Tricks

  • Don't skip the broil. ​It's an added step and added dishes, but it's well worth the effort. Classic carne asada is seared over high heat, adding a charred, slightly caramelized exterior. Broiling helps emulate this charred on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.
  • Always rehydrate soy curls in broth, not water. When I first started incorporating soy curls into our diet, I tried many of the most popular recipes on the internet, and while they are very good, they almost always suggest rehydrating the soy curls in water. While this does work, it is extremely lacking in flavor. I only recommend rehydrating soy curls in a flavorful broth, or at least water with a couple tablespoons of soy sauce for added umami and necessary salt. 
  • Keep your soy curls in the freezer. ​While soy curls are technically non-perishable and can be stored on your pantry shelves, soy curls do keep best when kept in the refrigerator or freezer. I always keep mine in the freezer so they are indefinitely fresh and never go bad. 

How to Store Leftover Vegan Carne Asada

Leftover carne asada will keep when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

How to Freeze

As with most of my slow cooker recipes, this recipe can be frozen before and after cooking to make a quick and easy freezer meal. 

  • To freeze before cooking: Follow the instructions to rehydrate the soy curls, drain the excess broth, squeezing out as much excess broth as possible. Then, transfer the hydrated soy curls to a large Ziplock bag along with all remaining marinade ingredients. Seal the freezer bag, removing as much excess moisture as possible and gently mix the marinade ingredients around, fulling coating the soy curls. Freeze for up to 3 months, then cook directly from frozen as directed. 
  • To freeze after cooking. ​Allow the carne asada to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe bag and remove as much excess air from the bag as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months. Then, allow to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and enjoying. 
Vegan carne asada after broiling.

More Vegan Taco Recipes To Try

Home-Cooked Roots Logo

Vegan Carne Asada Tacos Recipe

5 from 1 vote

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Take Taco Tuesday to the next level with this Vegan Taco Recipe! It's made with slow cooked vegan steak that's broiled for the ultimate charred flavor, then served as street tacos with simple toppings! 

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 8 ounces soy curls
  • 4 cups vegan “beef” broth or vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 white onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped
  • 1 large orange juiced
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil

For serving

  • cilantro
  • white onion diced
  • diced tomatoes
  • sliced jalapeños

Instructions

  • Add the dry soy curls to a large bowl. Pour over the vegan “beef” broth or vegetable broth and set aside to rehydrate for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, drain the soy curls and squeeze out the excess liquid.
  • Add to the slow cooker along with the soy sauce, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  • Once done, use kitchen shears to cut up the soy curls into bite-size pieces.
  • Then use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the soy curls to a baking sheet, leaving behind the excess liquid. Drizzle with the vegetable oil then broil for 5-6 minutes. This will vary by oven so keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!
  • Serve on tortillas with cilantro, onion, tomatoes, etc. and enjoy!
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Notes

  • How to Store Leftover Vegan Carne Asada: Leftover vegan carne asada will keep when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to Freeze Vegan Carne Asada: As with most of my slow cooker recipes, this recipe can be frozen before and after cooking to make a quick and easy freezer meal. 
    • To freeze before cooking: Follow the instructions to rehydrate the soy curls, drain the excess broth, squeezing out as much excess broth as possible. Then, transfer the hydrated soy curls to a large Ziplock bag along with all remaining marinade ingredients. Seal the freezer bag, removing as much excess moisture as possible and gently mix the marinade ingredients around, fulling coating the soy curls. Freeze for up to 3 months, then cook directly from frozen as directed. 
    • To freeze after cooking. ​Allow the vegan carne asada to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe bag and remove as much excess air from the bag as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months. Then, allow to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and enjoying. 

Nutrition

Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 18g | Sodium: 1763mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 9g

Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican-American

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5 from 1 vote

Photography by: Your Home Made Healthy

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